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Like an elf she had sprung, sprightly and swift
And hid herself behind the trees
As she took off, it is her breath that I whiffed
and then felt my own freeze

But it's not for her affection that I've yearned
but rather for the night when leaves had burned
and their scent mingled with grass and melting snow
as I watched their bodies in the fire's ambers glow

A yellowish outline of trees by the distant fire sketched
Distracted from the sky's dark blue gaze
My poor feet were from the puddles wet
By the time I had reached her secret place

With icicles on her coat, breathing towards my nose
with winter's glacial yet refreshing breath
Her bare legs were mired in moist and nascent grass
And from their surface a salty, seaweed aura rose

But really is there something fleeting
that a simple encounter receives
from an ordinary meeting
of melting snow, wet grass, and burning leaves?

Our soaking coats by the smoke fumed,
Shoulder to shoulder by the fire we sat,
and the timid flame, by our vicious eyes fed,
drew courage and consumed
a pile of dry leaves purple and red

As we watched the charred remains in the fire turn
the separate pieces in one mixture and powder collected
The action of grinding and mingling was by our minds reflected
And out of jumbled imaginings were vivid fantasies born

Fire prevention week always gets me feeling a bit of nostalgia, as I get to thinking back to the days when I ran with the fire department. The trainings were always pretty fun, especially the weekend trainings held by the county once every year. I kept all of the certificates that I accumulated through the years, and I always remember the vehicle rescue training I took in October of 1994.

It was a rather warm weekend, and we had assembled in the classroom to go over some basic techniques and the tools used for the rescue. After a half day in the classroom, we packed up and headed out to a local junkyard to practice the techniques we just saw. The tool itself was pretty heavy, but once you got it where you needed it, it did it's work and opened up a door. As we cut apart this car, an old eight ball rolled out onto the ground. I kept it as a reminder of the weekend, however, it would serve to remind me of something, rather, someone else.

I returned home that weekend, and had tuned my scanner into the local fire dispatch, where I heard about an auto accident in front of a high school. Those are never good, and it wasn't my high school, so I didn't really think about it. The next morning as I walked into school, I realized something was wrong. I made it to my first period class, and was told to go to the library, where I had come to find out that a close friend of mine had died in a car accident. The worst part was it was the accident I had heard on the scanner. It got me to thinking about the weekend training I had just had, and now every time I look at that eight ball, I think of my friend Alicia.

Ever since that time, I always had a fear in the back of my mind when I went responding to calls that one day I would come upon someone I knew. Thankfully, that never happened to me, but had I been involved longer I'm sure one day it would have.

Before the American League Divisional Series, the conventional wisdom had the New York Yankees crushing Cleveland. Patient Yankee hitters would force Faustino Carmona to bring up his sinker where it would be clobbered (he held them to three hits and one run in nine innings). The Indians bullpen would wilt (it gave up two runs in four games). Before Game 4 Indians starter Paul Byrd was asked how he felt facing a team that would surely clobber him? Everybody thought manager Eric Wedge should start Game 1 starter C.C. Sabathia. He started Byrd who went out and beat the Yankees, clinching the series for Cleveland.

So the little team that could went out and beat the Yankees. With a payroll 1/3 that of the Best Team Money Can Buy, the Tribe went out and whupped the Yankees three games to one. And today, what is everyone talking about? The Yankees! People aren't talking about the excellence of Cleveland's bullpen or how patient Indians hitters beat New York pitching. They're talking about what's wrong with the Yankees and who will be gone next year.

There's a reason for this. First of all, the Indians reside in Cleveland and while Cleveland Rocks only Ian Hunter seems to know about it. It's a rust belt city that no one in glitter oriented America seems to care about except for the people who live there. Secondly, the national media lives in New York. Except for travelling commentators, when they go out to a game, they go see the Yankees. And the Yankees have been winners. During Joe Torre's 12 years they made the playoffs 12 years in a row and won four World Series. Everybody just assumes they'll win. The hangover from Cleveland's victory hasn't worn off yet and so they talk about what they expected to talk about all along. Except now they spend a bit more time on Boston, the big market team the networks now hope will win.

Granted George Steinbrunner helped them by once again demonstrating that he's a douche-bag. It's been seven years since they made the World Series and that's too long for George. And to be thoroughly spanked by Cleveland, his old stomping grounds, well that's too much. So everybody is talking about who will stay, and who will go.

Joe Torre is probably gone. I watched his comments after the game, and all I can say is that if I didn't have Eric Wedge, I'd welcome him in the Cleveland dugout. He's calm, honest and a gentleman. Baseball is a marathon not a sprint. One hundred sixty two games is a long way, and people who lose their cool lose command of their team. Oh once in a while you can bring in a manager to get in people's faces and it will get them to concentrate a bit harder. New York used to use the late Billy Martin that way. The first season the Yanks would play well, but he'd be fired by the fourth season because Martin's in-your-face approach eventually alienates the players, who Milton Bradley aside, are grown men. In the long run I want a manager like Torre, who knows what to do and how to push people's buttons without pushing them away. In fact, I think I have that in Wedge, who is also calm in adversity, trusts the 'approach' and his players. Wedge is a big reason the Indians did what they did, and he did it by doing what he did before.

The media can crow all it want about how the Yankees "choked". They didn't choke. They were beaten by a better baseball team. The Yankees may have had a murderous lineup, but the Indians had that in the late 90s and discovered again that good pitching beats good hitting. That's what happened. Sabathia and Carmona were supposed to wilt under the Yankee onslaught, only that assumption was made by people who didn't notice that neither wilted under any pressure all year. Sabathia ended the season by giving up two or less runs in ten consecutive starts! You don't win 19 games in this league without being good, and being good almost every time out. The fact that Paul Byrd doesn't throw 95 had him pegged as a target. Nobody noticed that he won 17 games and kept his team in contention every time. You can't do that unless you know how to get people out. Everybody talked about the 'patient Yankee hitters' while forgetting that Indians hitters are pretty selective too. They forced the Yankee pitchers to throw strikes, got key hits and scored a fair amount of runs themselves. They played home run ball and they played little ball. They did what they need to do to win, and so they won.

In a few days the American League Championship Series will begin. The Boston Red Sox are a very good team, with outstanding pitching and fine hitting. I'm sure the media will spend most of their time talking about the BoSox. That's fine with me. Because the only thing that will get them talking about Cleveland is a World Series Victory. That's the talk I want to hear.

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